1Tongue Movement: The Autonomous Mystery in Your Mouth
The front of your tongue has a mind of its own and is always on the move, secretly exploring your mouth. Dentists are well aware of this behavior during impression taking, when the tongue can be seen chasing the dental tool or licking their fingers around the mouth. It can and will also follow toothbrushes or other foreign objects in the mouth without one's awareness.
2. The intestines are covered by a "blanket" called the greater omentum, made of a double fleece of peritoneum. When the intestines get injured, this blanket crawls towards the injury and stays there until it's recovered. The word "omentum" actually means "apron" in Latin! And in some cases, it can even be removed to prevent cancer from spreading to other parts of the body.
3. Your eyes have their own immune system, so if they get infected, it's up to them to handle it. Your eyes are "immune privileged," meaning the rest of the body’s immune system has no knowledge of their existence. If this immune system were to suddenly become aware of the eyes, it may treat them as a threat and try to neutralize them, potentially leading to blindness. This is why severe eye trauma to even one eye can be particularly dangerous, as it can expose the immune system to antigens in the eye and blind both of them.
4. The corpus callosum connects the two sides of the brain and allows them to talk to each other. It can be surgically removed as a last resort in the treatment of severe epilepsy. This can lead to bizarre experiences such as having one hand act in opposition to the other and potentially even give rise to dual consciousness, creating two separate individuals within one body. One split-brain patient dressed himself; he sometimes pulled his pants up with one hand (that side of his brain wanted to get dressed) and down with the other (this side didn't).
5. Your intestines have the ability to reshape themselves after surgery, thanks to the smooth muscle in their walls, which allows them to move and return to their normal position. This makes the job of gut surgeons easier, as they can simply "pile" the intestines back into place, grab the sides, and shake them around before closing the incision, relying on the intestines' natural reshaping abilities.
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6Vitamin C's Role in Bone and Wound Health
Collagen, produced with the help of Vitamin C, acts like glue for our broken bones and wounds, holding them together. Without enough vitamin C, scurvy can cause old wounds to reopen and long-healed bones to break apart, even causing teeth to loosen and fall out. So, the next time you have some fruit or veggies, don't push them aside!
7. When a tattoo is removed, the ink particles are eventually broken down and excreted through the urine. The removal process causes the ink to fragment into smaller particles, which are then filtered out by the kidneys and eliminated from the body through urination. Some of the broken-down ink particles can also be eliminated through feces, although the majority is excreted through urine.
8. Our own immune system, meant to protect us, can kill us faster than the fastest-killing virus, Ebola (4 days). In just 15 minutes, an allergen encountered for the first time can trigger a severe immune response, causing death. And that's not all; our immune system can even turn on our own body, causing autoimmune diseases and destroying vital organs such as the pancreas, skin, and joints. Talk about a rogue defender!
9. An unexplainable "sense of impending doom" can be a symptom of life-threatening medical emergencies like anaphylaxis, a heart attack, a blood transfusion with the wrong blood type, pancreatic cancer, and internal bleeding. In some cases, it can even present before physical symptoms are detectable. Some EMTs are trained to take people seriously when they report feeling like they're "going to die," regardless of their appearance.
10. Our tongues and lips have an incredible density of nerves, giving them remarkable tactile capabilities. In fact, looking at an object can make us vividly imagine what it would feel like to lick or touch it with our lips. This is why babies put everything in their mouths and get important stimulation from this act. While we eventually stop this behavior as we get older, it's still a strange and fascinating aspect of our anatomy.
11When Your Brain Plays Tricks with Your Pain Perception
Your brain can play tricks on you, making you feel referred pain from your organs in unexpected places! For example, a painful pancreas can present as pain in your flank or back; a heart attack can feel like jaw or shoulder pain; a kidney stone can feel like testicle pain; and even shoulder pain can be a sign of uterine cramping or an ectopic pregnancy.
12. The prescription acne medication Minocycline can turn bones green and has been known to also discolor wisdom tooth roots. This dark green pigment is due to the medication's incorporation into bone, similar to bisphosphonates. Although rare, green discoloration has also been documented in the lower extremities and in the foot and ankle, but it is considered benign when resulting from tetracycline therapy such as Minocycline.
13. Our brain is capable of filtering out information and making assumptions based on extrapolation, known as proprioception. This allows us to estimate distances and understand the positioning of our limbs, enabling us to perform actions such as touching our nose with our finger even with our eyes closed. Strokes that affect this part of the brain can result in dysmetria, or difficulty measuring distances. Proprioception can also vary between individuals, which can impact their ability to perform tasks such as driving. Childhood activities like climbing, swinging, spinning, and falling down can help develop physical literacy and improve proprioception.
14. A female baby is born with all the eggs she will ever have, and the egg cell that made her was inside her grandmother before her mother was born. This means that the egg that eventually developed into you was present in two generations before you were born!
15. Newborn babies, both male and female, can sometimes produce milk, known as "witch's milk," due to hormonal influence from their mother shortly after they are born. This occurs because the mother's hormones cross over to the baby, causing the baby's mammary glands to secrete small amounts of milk. This phenomenon typically lasts for a few days to a couple of weeks, and is harmless.
16Menstrual Cramps: When Womb Suffocates Itself
The cause of period cramps is the uterus suffocating itself. During a period, the uterus contracts to shed its lining, and sometimes the contractions are so strong that they squeeze the blood vessels, cutting off the supply of oxygen and causing pain. This process also increases your production of a hormone called prostaglandins, which encourages even more contractions of the uterus, creating a vicious cycle of pain.
17. Some cancer tumors, called teratomas, can actually grow hair, teeth, bones, and even eyes, but not a heart or brain. These strange growths are like mini-monsters within our own bodies, sprouting human-like features in unexpected places. And the weirdness doesn't stop there - some teratomas have even been found to contain functioning vocal cords and have made noises while still inside the body!
18. Our bodies secrete mucus every few hours to protect us from the damaging effects of our own stomach acid. Salivating excessively before vomiting is also a self-defense mechanism to reduce the damage from the acid to the esophagus. This hydrochloric acid in our stomachs is so powerful that it can dissolve metal. It helps to break down food, and it also helps kill off any harmful bacteria and pathogens present in the food.
19. After any kind of surgery that involves moving the organs, the body might assume that organ is dead and stop its functioning for a day or two. That's why doctors wait for post-c-section patients to pass gas before letting them eat, to ensure their digestive system is back online. Eating too soon after abdominal surgery can result in a paralytic ileus, where the food just stays there until it gets thrown up.
20. Cancer is not just a result of lifestyle choices, but often it's just due to bad luck. According to studies, there isn't much we can do to prevent the estimated 60% of cancers that are due to non-modifiable risk factors.
21Delicate and Vulnerable Nature of the Spinal Cord
Despite having our vital organs protected by muscle walls and a rib cage, our spinal cord remains exposed and delicate, kind of like a precious gem lying in the open. This is despite the fact that it is one of the most important and fragile parts of our body. Even minor injuries to the back can lead to complete paralysis, regardless of a person's strength or muscle mass. Our back muscles give us cushioning and support, but they don't protect the spinal cord directly.
22. Our internal mental lock prevents us from accessing 100% of our physical strength. That's why you can't rip off your own finger without some kind of outside assistance. But in extreme situations, such as when protecting a loved one, the primal part of our brain can override this limit and allow us to perform seemingly impossible feats of strength. The consequences of using 100% of our strength, on the other hand, can be physically damaging, as the primary goal of this lock is to prevent tearing your muscles, breaking your bones, and damaging your body in the process.
23. Your scrotum (ballsacks) can act as a thermometer! If you have a fever, your testicles hang loose because high body temperatures can destroy sperm. Sperm is very temperature-sensitive, so when it gets cold outside, your testicles may contract. Testicles also hang at uneven heights so they don't damage each other when you're running or sitting.
24. There's a "right" and a "wrong" way to swallow food, and the way you learned to swallow as a baby may not be the right way! There's a difference between the "nursing" swallow, where you push your whole tongue forward, and the proper adult swallow, where you put the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth and roll the food back. Incorrect swallowing patterns can lead to a higher risk of choking, faster eating, dental problems, and even speech issues like a lisp.
25. Our bodies are home to a diverse community of microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses. In fact, for every human cell in our bodies, there are about 1.3 bacterial cells, and billions of bacteriophages (viruses) feed on these bacteria in our gut. This thriving ecosystem within us highlights the idea that we are not just one organism but rather a network of interconnected cells, some of which can even exit our bodies and become a part of someone else's microbiome.